"This was cattle that was on the Morongo Indian Reservation," said Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez. "He stole it with some juveniles, then he tried to sell it at an auction in Ontario."
The experienced stockyard personnel called the state branding inspector, who determined the cattle were from the Morongo Tribal Cattlemen's Association.
Steven Seick, 47, from Apple Valley, was arrested and is in custody.
A juvenile accomplice was detained and later released to his parents.
Cases of cattle theft in the Inland Empire are not common, but they do occur.
"We are still a rural county, there are still a lot of farms with cattle, but nobody usually tries to re-sell it," said Gutierrez.
Jeremy Gorham, a stockyard owner, explained that the brand on cattle is like a license plate on a car.
"You kind of get a feel for who has what cattle, and the picture didn't match," said Gorham.
Seick will be arraigned on the cattle rustling charges in a Riverside court.
The total value of the cattle is about $3,600.
The crime is considered a serious one. One hundred years ago, justice was meted out much faster.
"One hundred years ago, this guy, you wouldn't be investigating anything, you would probably go to the morgue instead," said Gorham.